Kentucky football: Rutgers can have Wimsatt UK deep, diverse at QB

You win some you lose some and Kentucky football has certainly been on the winnings side lately with signees, but when the top in-state quarterback Gavin Wimsatt decided to commit to Rutgers Friday it was another whiff at this coveted spot that has become a common occurrence.

But it’s ok the stable of signal-callers is full of talent at the present.

Wimsatt is a 4-star junior quarterback from Owensboro and top-ranked in Kentucky and No. 89 overall in the 2022 class. He had narrowed his choices down to Kentucky, Cincinnati and Rutgers.

Gavin Wimsatt picks Rutgers but Wildcats have loaded QB stable

With two schools close to home options in Lexington (178 miles) and Cincinnati (205 miles) he ultimately verbally committed to the Scarlet Knights 819 miles away in Piscataway, NJ.

This past year he completed 145 of 235 passes for 2,070 yards and 26 touchdowns with 10 interceptions.

While Kentucky already has returnees in juniors, Joey Gatewood and Patrick Delahunty, sophomores Beau Allen and Nik Scalzo along with freshman Kaiya Sheron on the roster they have also reached into the transfer portal and plucked out Penn State transfer Will Levis in February.

Wildcat fans know full well how thin this position was just two years ago when the team was without options during the season and had to resort to Lynn Bowden running the offense. While he was the team’s best player on offense no matter where he lined up this was definitely an issue we didn’t want to see happen again.

However, Scalzo, Delahunty, and Sheron have not played in a collegiate game, and Allen in just two throwing a total of seven passes. Gatewood transferred from Auburn where he played in seven games and this past year in Lexington also appeared in seven games rushing 25 times for 62 yards and completed 17 of 35 passes for 109 yards with one interception.

While this group lacks true experience Levis has seen much more while playing in Happy Valley. In two years he completed 61 of 102 passes for three touchdowns and two interceptions. He also rushed 143 times for 473 yards and six scores. Penn State was 10-2 in 2019 and 6-4 in 2020.

Wimsatt at 6-foot-3, 200 pounds would be a great heir apparent in waiting for Kentucky but he probably didn’t want to wait that long with Greg Schiano returning to coach Rutgers more than likely Wimsatt was sold on helping bring back a Rutgers team that has been at the bottom of the Big 10.

This begs the question of why top-ranked quarterback targets find the need to go elsewhere instead of stepping onto Kroger field on Saturdays.

Some of the names Wildcats, fans have watched UK coaches hot after lately only to see them select other quality programs like Elijah Sindelar (Purdue), Jarrett Stidham (Baylor), Mac Jones (Alabama), Austin Kendall (Oklahoma), Connor Bazelak (Missouri), and Paul Tyson (Alabama) just to name a few.

But the truth we told these kids went to higher-profile schools that love fast-moving and stat-filling offenses and Kentucky has not been known as a high octane passing offense for years under the defensive-minded Stoops and former offensive coordinator Eddie Gran.

That is about to change with new offensive coordinator Liam Coen who likes what he has seen so far in his young inexperienced group and even better has the chance to teach and mold a young group that eager to learn at the same time about his NFL pro-style offense.

Coen was impressed with the group he has under center during spring practices while addressing media questions.

“It’s really just sinking my teeth in these guys and trying to help them get better. I don’t even care who’s in, in the huddle. I’m just trying to evaluate the position and trying to get these guys where everybody’s on the same footwork. Everybody’s on the same drop. Everybody’s cadence is the same. We need to have that sameness for the rest of the unit to be able to operate.

Remember Wimsatt is just a junior and can’t officially sign yet so he has the chance to see the product Kentucky puts on the field this fall and can still change his commitment on signing day. Don’t rest that this is a done deal just yet.

Plus they may not be done with the transfer portal after spring practices are complete. Coen, Mark Stoops, and Vince Marrow are always on the hunt. They found Terry Wilson and that didn’t turn out so bad.

You have to like the corp of players already on the roster and who takes the lead heading into the fall is anyone guesses and any players to win. They are all playing with a clean slate. Step up it’s your job to earn Beau, Joey, Nik, Patrick, Kaiya, and Will.

Gatewood is a dual-threat player, Levis and Sheron are pro-style quarterbacks, Scalzo is a duel-threat passer as is Allen and Patrick is a thrower and scholar making the dean’s list the past two years at UK.

Changing is the quarterback going under center more under Coen something that gives Levis the advantage over Allen and Gatewood who can’t remember when they have last not called a play of the shotgun. Levis has a bit more visibility and that Coen has known him through recruiting circles.

Coen who comes from the LA Rams knows running has been a big part of Kentucky offenses but it’s time to mix things up.

Balance is the key word. They have done a phenomenal job of running the ball here and we need to continue to do that and be physical up front. Now how do we marry the run, pass, play-action and all that stuff and give the quarterbacks and receivers high level completions and explosive plays. Our offense will be more similar to what the Rams did. We are not just going to drop back and pass all the time.”

With different styles to choose from Coen could easily go with just about any one of these in a number of different situations and defenses to scheme against.

So while Wimsatt may have verbally chosen elsewhere the cupboard is not bare and after this fall’s offensive changes Kentucky’s chances for these higher-rated quarterbacks to select and ink with the Wildcats could become a more consistent thing to see.